Sunday, October 29, 2017

Birth of a predator

In my previous post I had talked about what more should be done to go beyond Hashtags. Today I'm going to discuss why and how predators may be born in our society.

Nobody is a born predator. At a fundamental level, even though we're animals, we still yearn for higher level things like love, companionship, trust, and so on. However, we tend to take the easy way out whenever possible, and this is true in case of pleasure as well. We are all looking for instant pleasure, even at the cost of others. This particularly happens when we feel we have an advantage over the other person. Such thinking in the past led to slavery and exploitations in different ways. Recent resurgence of MeToo movement is an important evidence that such animalistic behavior is still rampant in our society.
Interestingly, the incidents have been rising over the years, perhaps due to more people becoming vocal about it (a useful and healthy development towards a better society), or such incidents have actually increased (a disturbing trend). Assuming the worst, i.e., the latter case, I would share following reasons which are, in my opinion, leading to an increase in such incidents in today's times.

1. Pornography.
It was nothing short of miracle that I almost completed 4 years of my college life without watching pornography. My batchmates argued that every guy needs to watch such videos to know what to do at their wedding night. And I counter-argued that such "education" wasn't needed since Early man didn't have any videos to guide them to procreate! Sadly pornography is not about education but about instant gratification of sexual desires. There is too much ugliness and violence in pornography and it can hamper more than help a young mind in understanding complexities of their body post-puberty and respectful interaction between him/herself and their companion.
During the last semester of my Bachelor's degree program, I succumbed to the idea of watching pornography, perhaps not to feel left out as the only guy who hadn't seen pornography during his college days! But I wish I hadn't. If I could go back in time and sleep early that night, I happily would. Because once you watch pornography, its difficult to undo the effect it can have on you. I couldn't go back to being "accha baccha" anymore! Any girl I looked at after that, I felt that, simultaneously, a predator was also looking at her from within me. This made it almost impossible for me to have normal conversation with a girl. This is horrible for a 22 year old boy who never had a girlfriend. In such situation, a person tends to watch more pornography, which makes it even more difficult to talk to girls. This vicious cycle can pull you down and keep you there. That's why pornography should not exist, whereas it might be increasing in quantity due to availability of internet and tools to make videos.
Add to that, the increasing number of disturbing reports of molestation and rape makes a pornography addict even worse about himself and can lead to depression and severe inferiority complex. For many years after college I lived in this fear that I might end up becoming a predator myself. I constantly kept "one hand distance" as taught to us all in school, from girls and in closed crowds, kept both my hands in my pocket to make sure I don't touch any female (or even male) in a wrong manner.
It gets even worse when others don't get it and sometimes laugh it off. My friends told you that since I'm a guy, obviously you'll be attracted to girls, unless you're gay, and then they may tell you that being a guy, isn't it better to feel attraction to girls. They'll tell you its normal, and its no big deal. And when I shared my fear of becoming a predator, most of them laughed, maybe because I don't look like one. Either they don't understand the difference between attraction and lust or they were avoiding the topic. Attraction is often healthy but lust is what awakens the predator. And pornography is the easiest way to awaken the predator.

2. Advertisement.
Its atrocious that the advertisers need six pack abs or size zero figure models for selling soaps and flavored drinks. Times of India and some other news bulletins are flooded with pictures of women, and these days men too, flaunting their perfect bodies, barely wearing any clothes. Earlier I had reasoned that it was because those models were poor and couldn't afford clothes of longer length but I knew it was a silly reason I gave myself to look away from the harsh reality. And the reality is that the advertisement world has been trying to appease our animal side that enjoys watching semi-naked women and men. And this, in my opinion, is also leading to our predatory tendencies coming to the surface. Consider this scenario - a person looks at nudity in advertisements, on TV, and billboards, which makes him/her desire for more. Daily exposure to such advertisements only leads to increase of thirst for such pleasure which may lead to an innocent person becoming a victim. In the opposite scenario, if advertisements were not selling scantily clad men and women, people would focus more on the product and what it offers, and make better choices while shopping. Moreover, they wouldn't unnecessarily be turned on every now and then, and would be able to focus more on what truly matters: family, work, friends, personal health and growth.

3. Repressed society.

We don't openly talk about certain "taboo" topics. MeToo has been a bold move to break away from such a construct. Good news is that its working. But it must continue, not just on social media, but also within our homes, and especially between a child and his/her parent/guardian/teacher. Such interaction is of utmost importance because parent/guardian/teacher are the authority figures for children in their formative years and wholehearted support from them would give these children strength to talk about such incidents, get the predator punished and also help them grow up to become strong and empathetic adults. While many have confessed about their ugly experiences to their friends or girlfriends/boyfriends and even spouses, this has often happened much later in life. Such confessions are always helpful but nipping the issue in the bud will be more effective.

In conclusion, building trust and focusing on delayed gratification can go a long way to discourage birth of predators. We must foster trust among each other so that we could freely talk about such issues, the way one talks about an injury or illness, and also understand that certain pleasures must come after certain effort. Preying on someone else for one's own pleasures not only makes the other person suffer, but the predator themselves suffer for such pleasures do not last long and they look out for more, making themselves miserable in the process.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

MeToo - Are HashTags enough?

I had an animated discussion with my wife regarding recent resurgence of HashTags to promote yet another social cause, only this time I wholeheartedly support and feel it is very important (actually the second part of this statement was the result of my wife convincing me that it was important, but that's not important here!).
While sharing our sentiments online gives us momentary relief and a sense of community, and also encourages people to share their experiences and not suffer alone, we should not stop there. In the past there have been instances of sudden rise of HashTags and Profile Pictures, but such instances died down like a wave dies down after reaching the shore. But our shore is nowhere near, when it comes to #MeToo.
#MeToo is a good first step in the right direction. But what next? Do we feel complacent because we've at least start talking about it? Its good that we have but talking doesn't remove the danger. And the danger is real and still lurks nearby. There is more to be done. In my opinion we can begin with the following:
1. Be vary of predators. In pre-historic times, living in a jungle and forgetting that we share the jungle with lions and cheetahs, would have cost our lives. Similarly we must not forget that predators exist in today's world also. They look like an ordinary person, and are sometimes a near/dear one, which makes it difficult to spot them. Nonetheless, we must, firstly, survive like we survived in pre-historic times, by evading such predators.
Best way to do that is to take obvious precautions. These may seem "ancient" and "outdated" but so is the mindset of the predators we are up against. Hence, we should pay heed to what the older generations teach us and warn us about/against. Coming home early and not venturing out at night won't make you less of a "modern" person. Moreover, despite how "modern" we feel we are, we are still living in a jungle and humans are still animals, at least in certain aspects. Just like we take precautions to not fall sick, we should also take precautions to stay safe. Because falling sick is not our fault but we do suffer because of it, and I don't think we should suffer anymore when it is not our fault.
2. Educate everyone you can. It is sad but true that some predators have already been born and are here to stay till they die. To prevent birth of future predators, we must educate everyone we can, that includes our own children, other children, and other people who may not be children anymore but are willing to understand and behave properly. Moreover, we must remember that any form of permanent change in a species takes time (Darwin's theory of natural selection). But here it is not the nature but we humans who will bring about the change in our species through teaching people about mutual respect. And maybe, just maybe we will witness the change as the reduction in the number of predators in the next few generations. We may not live long enough to witness such momentous change, but we must be the ones to initiate it.
HashTags are good. Becoming the change you want to see in the world, is better. Participating in gradually changing the mindset of this world, is best.
Let us make #MeToo not only a symbol of a bad past experience but also the building blocks of a safer and happier future, by shouting: #MeToo will make a better future.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Howling Maid

Today morning while having breakfast, I heard a maid shout at the top of her voice at the woman behind closed doors of her house, to pay her for the last month's work. The woman, apparently, seemed not to care. The caretaker of our apartment came to resolve this issue and tried to talk this maid into leaving. The maid said that she had worked very hard and deserved every rupee that was being denied to her. She then added that the woman was accusing her of theft and hence wasn't paying her and had even threatened to call the police. Nonetheless, the maid was determined to stay put until she was paid in full.
The maid left after about ten minutes, for reasons I'm not aware of. But it made me realize something important, what if the maid was telling the truth and the woman was lying just to get back at the maid for something else she had done to her, or perhaps the maid didn't do anything and the woman's attitude was unsympathetic. I am not sure whether the allegation of theft was true but based on her voice and tone it seemed that the maid badly needs the money she had earned and deserved.
What I don't understand at all is, why give someone a chance to steal anything from your place? Why keep precious valuables lying around in the house? I've seen the tendency to carelessly keep one's important at some place and over time forgetting about it, in almost every household I have visited or know of. We seem to get too comfortable in our own home but forget that we are inviting an outsider who is probably less wealthy than we are, and may therefore have a tendency to steal things. Would we not have taken care against predators had we lived in a cave in a jungle? Then why consider some outsider to be a saint, when (and I am sure of it) everybody has heard of stories of maids stealing from their master's homes sometime or the other. Instead of enticing her to steal by keeping things in the open and then accusing her of stealing when things go missing (even if it may be your 10 year old who misplaced it), why not keep our valuables safe?
You may argue that, can't one live the way one wants in one's own home. Sure you can, but it is your home only because you occupy it at the moment. Moreover, its like saying, can't I eat the way I like because its my body. And you know where such thinking leads to.
Stop blaming others. Instead organize your life such that you minimize such incidents. That will not only help you retain a maid for longer time without any bitter feelings that is so rare these days, it will also provide you with some peace of mind, which I dare say, is rarer still.